AIDS awareness programmes will be specifically targeted at China’s gay community after a report released this week revealed that gay men are deliberately having unsafe sex.

China’s Ministry of Health has now launched a Give Year Plan to fight AIDS in the gay community, including prevention volunteers and special funding.

The study of 526 gay men in Beijing, seen as a representative sample, by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that while knowing about the risks of unprotected sex, only 20 percent of homosexual men use condoms.

“It is like people addicted to smoking who know their habit causes cancer but still continue to smoke,” Wu Zunyou, director of the centre, told the China Daily.

It is the first study of the gay population in China and reveals that there are 30 million gays and lesbians in the country out of around 1.3 billion.

Although homosexuality in China is no longer considered a mental illness, it is still considered a taboo issue.

Recently sociologists have called for the country to support gay marriage arguing it would promote stable relationships and safe sex that could help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.